Who: Michigan (18-11) at Wisconsin (17-10)
Where: Kohl Center, Madison, WI
When: Sunday, Feb 28th, 2 PM ET
Spread: Wisconsin by 8
Preview: Stat Sheet, U-M KenPom Profile, Wisconsin KenPom Profile
Radio: MGoBlue, WWJ-AM (950), WTKA-AM (1050)
Last Time: Preview / Recap
The first time these two teams met, Wisconsin gave Michigan a stern reminder about how basketball is played in the Big Ten. Wisconsin shredded the Michigan defense and rode their hot shooting (eFG% of 65.2%) to a 12 point win in a game they led for 40 minutes. These two teams have both been through quite a bit and seen their fair share of ups and downsÂ in the 59 days since their first battle.
Wisconsin has had a tumultuous conference season that has seen both a six game losing streak and a five game winning streak. Despite looking like they were toast at the end of January the Badgers now look like they are a good bet to make the NCAA tournament. Michigan on the other hand continues to fight for an NCAA berth and their Thursday night effort against Purdue was arguably their most inspired of the year. Michigan needs to bring the same kind of effort and intensity to the Kohl Center if they want to steal one.
Wisconsin plays painfully slow basketball and they grind teams up with their methodical swing offense. The Badgers’ offense has been very efficient this season, in conference play they are scoring 1.07 points per possession which is good for third in the league. Wisconsin holds onto the ball better than anyone else in the conference so don’t expect many turnovers. They are also a very solid shooting team, they shoot 36.8% from long range and 48.3% from two point range. They don’t do anything else exceptionally well on offense but they don’t have many glaring weaknesses either.
On defense Wisconsin will try to overwhelm Michigan with their size. They aren’t exactly UConn but they throw a lot of big bodies at you. Guys like Krabbenhoft, Nankivil, Jarmusz, and Landry are all in that 6-foot-7 mold where they can play all over the court.Â Wisconsin does a great job of not leaving their feet to commit a foul, they play body position defense and take your space away rather than blocking your shot. You can bet that they will cram the lane in an effort to prevent easy looks.
In the first game the Michigan offense didn’t have much going besides Zack Novak who had 20 points. Peedi had an efficient 14 points on 6 shots but Manny Harris struggled and only scored 9 points on 3 of 13 shooting. Laval Lucas-Perry scored 11 points but he struggled on defense all game. Michigan clearly is going to need to get a solid performance out of DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris, those two guys are the ones that make this offense go, especially on the road.
The biggest change from the first game will be the lineups. LLP played 30 minutes in the first match-up and I would expect to see him play closer to 8 minutes in this one. Stu Douglass has stepped his game up over the last 7 games and is averaging 9.7 ppg and shooting 43.5% from long range. I would also expect to continue to see a lot of CJ Lee because his defense will be needed against Trevon Hughes. Hughes absolutely torched Michigan in the first game and hit a ton of big shots, especially late in the shot clock.
The key for Michigan is going to figuring out a way to get stops. To give you an idea of how well Wisconsin played on offense in the first game, they scored 1.24 points per possession. Michigan had one of their best offensive performances of the year against Purdue and they only scored 1.22 points per possession. The encouraging part is that Michigan’s defense has seemed to improve lately, mostly since the insertion of CJ Lee into the lineup.
It’s hard to like Michigan’s chances in this one. The Kohl Center is a tough place to play and Wisconsin has been on a roll (won 5 of last 6). The Badgers did slip up to Texas, Minnesota, and Purdue at home but it’s going to take Michigan’s ‘A+’ game to earn a win in Madison. Wisconsin has a veteran team and they have been here before, I’m not expecting anything but their best.Â Pomeroy gives Michigan a 20% chance at the upset and picks the Badgers by 7, Vegas is even less forgiving and predicts an 8 point margin.
Let’s hear your thoughts, predictions, and in-game posts in the comments. No live blog for this one, they are clearly bad luck.